A years-long effort to create a safe bicycle route across the length Ocean City is taking small steps toward completion.
At a forum on Thursday (Aug. 15) at the Ocean City Free Public Library, the public heard updates on three key links in the proposed eight-mile "bicycle corridor" between the Ocean City-Longport Bridge at the northern end of the island and the Corson's Inlet Bridge at the southern end:
- Ninth Street Crossing: The city has received a $100,000 grant to install a "HAWK Signal," a user-activated traffic signal, that would help bicyclists cross Ocean City's busiest cross-street, Ninth Street, at the intersection of Aldrich Avenue.
- North End Route: Work within the next six months will mark a bicycle route from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to Battersea Road (using the Gardens Parkway carriage roads, Bridge Boulevard, W. Atlantic Boulevard and W. Inlet Road).
- West Avenue Reconfiguration: A Cape May County road project to resurface West Avenue could create a buffered bicycle lane between 36th and 49th streets.
Bike OCNJ, a local bicycle advocacy group, hosted the public forum and solicited feedback and suggestions from about 50 people in attendance.
“We have made improvements over the past few years to make the town more bike-friendly and safer for families," said Tom Heist, a Bike OCNJ member, before the meeting. "We have a long way to go, but with the public’s support and with the support of city leaders, we can get there.”
Ocean City Police Sgt. Brian Hopely, head of the Traffic Safety Unit, and City Council members Mike DeVlieger, Tony Wilson and Pete Guinosso were in attendance.
The forum took note of some past and current projects:
- Completion of the multi-use path along the Route 52 causeway.
- Installation of a repair station on the 1700 block of Haven Avenue (thanks to the work of 18-year-old Joseph Tordella).
- An on-street bike corral in front of the Varsity Inn on Eighth Street.
- The successful bike boulevard between Ninth and 36th Streets.
The city and the county would solicit feedback from property owners and other stakeholders before designing any final plan. But members of the public at the forum suggested a change from four lanes of traffic to two (with a center lane for turns) could benefit not only bicycles but pedestrians.
Drivers unaware of the new crosswalk law create a hazard for pedestrians trying to cross four lanes of traffic.